Judge rules deputies can't put 'no trick-or-treat' signs in sex offenders' yards

BUTTS COUNTY, Ga. — A federal judge has ruled deputies in a Georgia county cannot put warning signs in front of homes of registered sex offenders who filed a lawsuit.

The Butts County Sheriff's Office placed "Do not trick-or-treat at this address" signs last Halloween in registered sex offenders' yards.

The department said the signs were consistent with the state's sex offender and registration warning law. But three sex offenders sued the department last week to stop deputies from placing the signs in their yards this year.

A judge ruled Wednesday night that the Sheriff's Office gave no evidence that the offenders posed any threat to children and the signs violate their right to privacy.

"While the vast majority of us may disagree with the judge's ruling, I strongly encourage you to NOT take matters into your own hands this Halloween," Sheriff Gary Long said on the county's Facebook page. "We understand frustration with the judge's ruling, but we all must abide by it unless it is overturned on appeal. Unfortunately, there is no time to appeal before this Halloween."


Long added in the Facebook post that his deputies will have a strong presence in neighborhoods where sex offenders are likely to be. The deputies will have candy in their patrol cars and stay until trick-or-treating is done for the night.

"I thank the citizens of this great county for their overwhelming support. I urge every citizen in Butts County to forward the link below to all of their friends and family, so they know if a registered sex offender lives close to them," Long said. "I thank all of those who are not residents of Butts County for their support as well. The outpouring of kind words from across the WORLD has been inspiring."

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation tracks the addresses of sex offenders in a public database. You can check a map that has a county-by-county breakdown on their website.